His warm smile, friendly personality and blue hearts make him one of the most recognized figures in the Central Valley … and now George the Giraffe is the star of his own series of books!
Valley Children’s Hospital released two titles recently featuring its beloved mascot. “A Home for George” is a hardcover book that tells the story of how George found his home at Valley Children’s Hospital and is dedicated to the five Founding Mothers of Valley Children’s – Carolyn Peck, Agnes Crocket, Gail Goodwin, Helen Maupin and Patty Randall. “Out & About with George in Kern County” is a board book that showcases kid-friendly activities and landmarks around the Bakersfield area.
The books are written and illustrated by local moms, who all have a personal connection to Valley Children’s: authors Claire Noland and Joan Schoettler and illustrator Mykel Newton Suntrapak.
“Since the hospital’s early days, George has represented the heart of this organization – kindness, caring for others and the magic of childhood,” says Lynne Ashbeck, senior vice president, community engagement and population wellness at Valley Children’s Healthcare. “The chance to tell his story through the talents of local artists was the perfect way to capture Valley Children’s traditions, values and our deep roots in the communities we’ve served for nearly seven decades.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful project bringing George to the children of the Central Valley through books,” says author Claire Noland. “Our family is thankful for Valley Children’s Hospital and the remarkable staff who cared for our own daughter. She was born prematurely, with a cleft palate and severe respiratory problems. The children of Central California are blessed to have the resources provided by this amazing hospital and specialty clinics.”
The first two books are now available for sale through the Valley Children’s Hospital Gift Shop and the Holiday Boutique in Fresno. The Boutique is operated by the Holiday Guild, one of 15 Guilds that help raise awareness and funds for Valley Children’s throughout Central California. All proceeds benefit Valley Children’s patients and programs.
“Seeing children’s faces light up as they read these books is everything,” says series illustrator Mykel Newton Suntrapak. “I’ve seen firsthand the amazing interactions between Valley Children’s team and patients. To be able to highlight Valley Children’s, through the eyes of George, is incredible. I’m so honored to be part of this and to bring George to life in a whole new way for families.”
In February, Valley Children’s will release “Out & About with George in Stanislaus County,” in time for the opening of the newest outpatient location – Pelandale Specialty Care Center in Modesto. Over the next few months, additional installments of the series will include George exploring Fresno County, teaching water safety and learning more about Valley Children’s Hospital.
Valley Children’s Literacy Program will distribute free copies of the books to patients at the hospital and all Medical Group locations. The Literacy Program hands out approximately 2,000 books a month to kids from Bakersfield to Modesto, with the intent to place new books in the hands of children in a region with some of the lowest literacy rates in the nation. Books range from board books for infants and toddlers to early step readers to chapter books and young adult novels.
“Valley Children’s invitation to write books about George has helped me intertwine my writing and my goal of improving early literacy,” says author Joan Schoettler. “This book project has provided many opportunities for learning more about Valley Children’s Hospital, a place that makes a difference in the lives of children and their families. It has been wonderful working with Valley Children’s Hospital.”
The George books will also be available for sale at Barnes & Noble stores in Fresno and Bakersfield, Petunia’s Place Children’s Books in Fresno, Giftworks in Oakhurst (part of La Sierra Guild), and on Amazon. Again, all proceeds benefit Valley Children’s.